If you’re in Oklahoma City a day early for your conference, or if you’ve got a day to kill after, the good news is that there is more to do in this city than you’ll have time to get to. Many of the city’s best sights and destinations are located in or near the urban core, which means you can pack a lot into one day.
Start with the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. Built in the wake of the tragic bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, the Memorial has come to symbolize the resiliency and can-do spirit of this city. The grounds are open 24 hours a day every day of the year, which means you can fit it into your schedule at any time of day. In fact, the Memorial was designed to be viewed and experienced in different seasons and at different times of day. Locals will tell you that night viewing is one of the absolute best ways to explore the grounds, and the virtual guided tour is available at all hours.
For lunch, head over to Mary Eddy’s at the 21C Museum Hotel. Chef Jason Campbell is one of the city’s most creative, talented chefs, and his approach to cuisine is to create flavor combinations that reflect the best our state has to offer. Before or after lunch, grab your cocktail or glass of wine and wander the hotel’s lower level. Modern art from the 21C collection is on display 24-hours a day in the 14,000-square-foot exhibit space. This year, pieces from Presidential portraitist Kehinde Wiley are included in the installation. The museum is always open and always free.
Need to work off lunch or shake off the conference sluggishness? Take a walk or run through the Myriad Botanical Gardens in the heart of downtown. The 17-acre botanical garden contains a beautiful collection of seasonal plants, terraced seating area, a great lawn, duck pond, fountains and plenty of trails for exercise. If the weather is really good, the Boathouse District offers kayaking, stand-up paddle boards, and even whitewater rafting along the Oklahoma River just south of downtown.
Bricktown has dozens of locally owned business if you need to get some shopping done, including beautiful work from Native American artists at Exhibit C Gallery. More shopping is available in Midtown. Pick up a book and a coffee at Commonplace Books and Kitchen, a fantastic independent bookstore on the edge of Midtown, or shop for the latest fashions at Mode, Trade Mens wear, and Black Scintilla.
Catch the sunset from the top of the city at Vast, located on the 49th floor of the Devon Tower. The American restaurant has a beautiful bar and extensive wine list, making it the perfect location for an aperitif or wind-down drink with an amazing view of central Oklahoma.
If you’re lucky enough to be in town for a Thunder game or a Philharmonic or Ballet performance, Mahogany Prime Steakhouse is a favorite destination for dinner and drinks. Conveniently located across the street from the Chesapeake Energy Arena, the home of the Thunder, it’s a wildly popular pre-game hangout with outstanding prime cuts of beef and one of the city’s best bars. If you’re headed for a performace at the Civic Center, Patrono has some of the city’s best Italian food, just one block from the Civic Center.